Philadelphia PA –Solar power is growing so fast in Pennsylvania that goals once considered ambitious are now seen as readily achievable, according to a new report by the PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center.
“We can get to 15% solar in Pennsylvania if we just keep our foot on the accelerator,” said Elowyn Corby, PennEnvironment’s Clean Energy Associate. “That’s a small fraction of what’s possible, but it will make a big difference in the quality of our lives and the future of our planet.”
The group’s researchers found that solar has grown 49% annually in recent years. If solar photovoltaic (PV) installations continue to increase at the same rate annually between 2014 and 2025, Pennsylvania would have enough solar energy to generate 15 percent of its electricity — a goal once thought improbable by many.
Achieving this target, the report said, would cut as much carbon pollution as 3.7 million cars emit in a year and put Pennsylvania more than halfway to the benchmark set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which requires cuts in power plant carbon pollution of 30 percent. Under this scenario, solar could nearly meet all of the renewable requirements under the EPA’s sample Clean Power Plan for Pennsylvania, which depends on 16% of the state’s electricity coming from Renewable’s by 2030.
“Sometimes, as we search for the answers to complex questions, we realize the answer was in front of us the entire time,” said Philadelphia Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, Chair of the City Council Committee on the Environment. “Such is the case with harnessing the power and energy of the largest free energy resource available to us—the sun. Solar power will play an increasingly significant role in developing the energy strategies of the future.”
Solar is currently the fastest-growing industry in the country, adding 143,000 jobs nationwide in 2013. According to the latest solar jobs census from the Solar Foundation, the solar industry employed more than 2,900 people in Pennsylvania in 2013.
“While solar has grown in Pennsylvania it's still only a fraction of a percent of our electricity use” stated Akil Marsh, head of Business Development at Solar States. “Furthermore, its growth has lagged behind other states. Simply mimicking policies executed in other states could reinvigorate Pennsylvania as a state for green jobs.”
The report quantifies the state’s enormous solar energy potential using data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Already, more than 1,300,000 residential and commercial rooftops could host solar panels.
"We look forward to more solar work in the near future in PA, mostly because solar installation costs are much lower now” said Ron Celentano, president of the Pennsylvania Solar Industries Association and Pennsylvania VP of the Mid Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association.
“When it comes to solar energy, the sky’s the limit,” said Corby. “Getting to 15% solar is the just the first step to a future powered entirely by pollution-free energy.”
PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center is a statewide citizen based advocacy organization bringing people together for a cleaner, greener, healthier future. www.pennenvironmentcenter.org